Fota Wildlife Park has announced the names of its four new arrivals of endangered Asian lion cubs.
The naming process was left out of Fota's hands as a competition in which members of the public had the chance to submit their suggested name for the new cubs was announced back in April.
Today, the search for the names of the four endangered cubs who were born at Fota Wildlife Park in February finally concluded.
The Rangers at the Wildlife Park sifted through hundreds of names before finally selecting Ri, Riann, Rani and Ravi as the final four.
Video credit: Sinead Donnachie, Fota Wildlife Park
The naming competition was won by Ian Twohig and Emma McCarthy both from Cork, Helen Cronin from Macroom, and Pamela Kent-Ryan from Mitchelstown, Co Cork who each received a Conservation Annual Pass to Fota Wildlife Park.
The Asian lion cubs are now over four months old and join their mother and father, Gira and Shanto, along with their older brother Loki, and aunt Gita in the specially constructed lion habitat in the Asian Sanctuary in Fota Wildlife Park.
Loki’s two sisters, Arya and Amira, part of the first lion cub pride born in Fota, were recently transferred to Helsinki Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP) for Asian lions.
Kelly Lambe, Lead Ranger said:
“The pride is doing great, the cubs are growing and gaining strength daily and Loki is proving to be a fantastic big brother as he is great with the cubs.
"They are still having the odd suckle from mum Gira, but they are also eating meat with gusto.
"We are also delighted to report that the two girls, Arya and Amira have settled in well in Helsinki with their grandmother.”
The Asian Lion is classified as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and now inhabits only one remaining site in the world, the Gir Forest, in India, which means that wildlife parks and zoos play a crucial role in safeguarding the species.
The current population in the Gir Forest is estimated to be in the region of 500 lions.
Their limited distribution increases the species susceptibility to extinction as a result of disease or a possible natural disaster which highlights the importance of cooperative breeding programmes undertaken by zoological collections such as Fota Wildlife Park.